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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words (Blu-ray)
Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words (Blu-ray)
Criterion // Unrated // August 16, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted September 7, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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Ingrid Bergman In Her Own Words Blu-ray Review

Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words is an intimate portrait of an exceptional artist in cinema: a Swedish actress who made a huge mark on the world through her career in films. Featuring narration by another famous Swedish actress, Alicia Vikander (who lends her voice as Ingrid Bergman), Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words is a moving examination of her life and career. The film is directed by Stig Björkman (Behind the Shutters) and is produced by Stina Gardell (The Nun), associate producer Anna Weitz (Once Upon a Hill), and co-producer Lisa Widen (Daybreak).

Ingrid Bergman is one of the most beloved actresses in the history of cinema. Bergman, born to a father who worked as a photographer, was in love with cinema from an early age. She loved art and the process of motion-pictures. It was something she carried with her for her entire life. Indeed, Bergman's love of movies was one of the things that helped shape her as an actress.

Her work remains renowned around the world. She collaborated with many of the Hollywood greats (including Hitchcock) and made classics like Casablanca, Notorious, and Spellbound . She later moved overseas during her career to work on acclaimed foreign language films with director Roberto Rossellini (whom she would later marry). (A Criterion Collection set containing three of their collaborations is also available: read the review.)

One of the biggest takeaways from Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words is just how modern and independent a woman Bergman was.  She was never willing to walk away from her career as a actress. She loved acting. It was something she held as incredibly dear to her life. She loved helping to make movies.  She would have family and a career and make no exceptions. She would wish that her children see her as a close friend more than anything else. She would defy Hollywood's own expectations of her as an actress. Instead of staying in Hollywood, she would go through a divorce and later remarry Rossellini while making foreign-language films overseas despite being one of the most celebrated actresses in Hollywood. She would make up her own mind.

The documentary contains an assortment of interviews with family and friends, including Pia Lindström, Roberto Rossellini (the son of the director), Isotta Rossellini, Isabella Rossellini, Fiorella Mariani, Liv Ullmann, and Sigourney Weaver. The interviews are absorbing. The children speak at great length about their experiences with her as their mother. Friends and acquaintances discuss the impact she had on their lives. The documentary offers many great insights, including great excerpts from her diaries as narrated by Alicia Vikander.

The music score by Eva Dahlgren (Le test) and Michael Nyman (Life of Pi, Monsoon Wedding) adds a great emotional element to the film. Indeed, it's a terrific and beautiful score. Scores of such beauty aren't as common in documentaries and both composers add a rich layer to the filmmaking that is worth applauding.

The cinematography by Eva Dahlgren and Malin Korkeasalo is certainly impressive and adds to the style of the documentary. Edited by Dominika Daubenbüchel, Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words contains a plethora of material from the Ingrid Bergman Archives and the material is utilized to great effect during the documentary (including early screen tests of Bergman from when she was starting out in Hollywood). The result of the editing is certainly commendable.

Director Stig Björkman (The White Wall) has constructed a richly felt, deeply moving film which was clearly lovingly created. Björkman has crafted an excellent documentary with great insights into the actress. The use of archival materials and new interviews is well interspersed. The film flows terrifically and tells the story of Ingrid Bergman with great skill.

The film is one of the best documentaries I have seen. It weaves together an amazing collection of home movies (often made by Bergman herself), along with the interviews with her children and friends. The film portrays her as being as much in love with the art of cinema as any film director. One certainly gets a strong impression that given a different time and circumstances, Bergman may have felt inspired to direct films herself. Bergman's passion for filmmaking shines throughout the documentary: it's clear that film was always something hugely important to her life.

Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words is a beautiful and heartfelt film which is essential for fans of the actress. Bergman was an iconic actress (both for her unquestionable beauty and for her skills as an actor). She was one of the best actors of her entire generation. (Of any generation, for that matter.) With Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words, Bergman's important story is explored in an entirely fascinating way. This is a great documentary, full of life, exploring the deeply human story of Ingrid Bergman.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Ingrid Bergman In Her Own Words arrives on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection with an impressive 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. The interviews are crisp, clean, and beautiful to behold. The many moments of archival footage (such as what Bergman shot) aren't as pristine  but that should be expected given the source elements. The film is presented with a strong 32 mbps bit-rate encode. It's certainly the best the film will ever look on home media.

Audio:

The film is presented in Swedish with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound presentation. This is a surprisingly beautiful surround sound mix for a documentary film. While there is little in the way of effects, the music score is beautifully presented on the release and helps to make this a more immersive sound design. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand.  Subtitles are provided in English.


Extras:

The release includes a printed leaflet containing an essay on the film and information on the Criterion Collection release.

On disc supplements include:

Stig Björkman (19 min.) discusses both the creation of the documentary Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words and Ingrid Bergman.

Home Movies (7 min.), shot on 8mm film, which were not included in the documentary.

Deleted Scenes: "How I Would Raise My Daughter" (3 min.), features the reading of an essay that was written by Bergman when she was 17 and still in school and "Rosario Tronnalone" (9 min.), which features an interview with the film historian, who discusses the history of Ingrid Bergman.

Extended Scenes: Shubert Theater (14 min.) with Sigourney Weaver, Isabella Rossellini, and Liv Ullman & Rossellini Siblings (6 min.), which offers an extended scene with interviews with the children of Ingrid Bergman as they discuss their mother.

Landskamp (1 min.) is an excerpt from a 1932 Swedish film in which Ingrid Bergman made her first film appearance - her debut role - as a girl who is standing in line.

On the Sunny Side Outtakes (6 min.), are taken from the 1936 Swedish film featuring Ingrid Bergman.

Music Video for "The Movie about Us"  - Performed by Swedish singer Eva Dahlgren

Trailer

Final Thoughts:

Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words is a moving documentary which is a must-see for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the actress: it's a surprisingly heartfelt examination of her career as an actress, her personal life, and her journey in life: from growing up in poverty to becoming one of the most well known actresses in the entire world.

The Criterion Collection Blu-ray release contains a plethora of absorbing supplements. The film itself is magnificent. The presentation is superb. This is easily amongst the best releases of the year and an essential release for fans of Ingrid Bergman.

DVD Talk Collector Series.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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